Month: March 2014

Speed Racer (2008)

Clocking in at an unacceptable two hours and fifteen minutes in length, Speed Racer tells an incredibly simple story about a boy and his race car and the quest to conquer the evil corporations ruining his favorite sport. You’ve seen this basic story before — probably more in cartoons and television shows (which is where the Speed Racer property began) than in feature films, but it will feel very familiar to most of the people watching it. The boy’s name is Speed Racer (Emile Hirsh), because if you’re a parent and you happen to have the last name of “Racer,” wouldn’t you take advantage of that? He has liked to do nothing but race cars for as long as he can remember, and at the point he turns 18, he is good enough to be considered one of the best drivers currently racing. This is also set in some weird future where everything is as colorful as it can be, and cars can do things that the cars you know cannot. It’s much like a kart racing video game, now that I think about it. Think Mario Kart but with faster speeds and less silly — although no more believable — weaponry. Since Speed Racer is such a good racer, early in the film he is recruited by a bunch of different teams, all of them hoping he’ll sign...

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Movie Review of ‘Muppets Most Wanted’ (2014)

Despite its shortcomings in terms of pacing and character focus, 2011’sThe Muppets was a delightful revivification of the ailing Muppets franchise, making Jim Henson’s iconic creations feel relevant once again. Striking while the iron’s hot, 2014’s Muppets Most Wanted retains director James Bobin and co-writer Nicholas Stoller, who actually improve upon their last endeavour, providing more laughs and plenty of inspired silliness, not to mention a superb selection of original songs. Whereas its 2011 predecessor was fundamentally the ultimate fan film, Muppets Most Wanted aims to get back to Muppet basics as if the gang never left. Thus, this new outing follows the template set by the original Henson-era trilogy, introducing a flimsy plot which blatantly exists as an excuse for gags, antics and songs. The Muppets was imbued with a very meta narrative, chronicling the Muppet gang getting back together and setting out to reclaim their popularity. Muppets Most Wanted is just as meta, with the little furry guys wondering what they should do for a sequel. Kermit (Steve Whitmire) and his friends are soon approached by manager Dominic Badguy (Ricky Gervais), who talks the gang into embarking on a tour of Europe. Meanwhile, evil Russian frog Constantine (Matt Vogel) escapes from a Siberian prison run by Nadya (Tina Fey), promptly swapping identities with Kermit to send the famous amphibian behind bars while he takes control of the Muppets. Using the tour as cover, Dominic and Constantine begin...

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The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010)

A film like The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is a testament to how running time and pacing are entirely different things. The first two chapters in the Narnia series each ran over 140 minutes long but never began to drag. You watched them and never even thought about looking at your watch, even though their running time approached two and a half hours. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader doesn’t even reach the 120-minute mark, and yet it feels overlong. At the end of Prince Caspian, it was made apparent that the two oldest Pevensie children would not be permitted back into Narnia. They had grown too old, apparently. As a result, the only two returning characters from the “real world” are Lucy (Georgie Henley) and Edmund (Skander Keynes). They, along with an annoying cousin named Eustace (Will Poulter), wind up in Narnia aboard the ship called the Dawn Treader, which is led by King Caspian (Ben Barnes), who has apparently lost his Spanish accent in the couple of years between films. In the last two films, the children were sent to Narnia with a clear purpose. That’s missing this time around. They eventually find one for themselves, which involves collecting a series of McGuffins in order to defeat pure evil, which more often than not takes the form of fog. That lack of...

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Noah (2014)

 The Bible is probably the oldest manuscript that teaches pretty much everyone how to be good, and how to show it through faith. Through well-known stories, The Bible delivers the consequences of believing in faith through very important lessons. One of these stories is the story of Noah and the great flood. There have been many interpretations of the story itself, and now we get a big screen adaptation simply titled “Noah”. How does it hold up against its religious background? Meh. With “Noah”, we get a mixed bag of big visual effects on a grand scale, but a very confusing execution to go along with the original myth.  The story is basically your standard retelling of Noah. Noah (Russell Crowe) receives a message from God who will destroy all of mankind in the form of a flood. Noah, along with his wife and three sons, build the ark, and it is contents being two of every known animal at the time. Yet some people find it crazy and they try to destroy the ark; but the flood comes and kills everyone, leaving Noah and his family to survive the rain and the forthcoming oceans. Noah eventually finds land and hope is restored as faith is restored in humanity. Oh, and there were giant rock monsters who helped Noah build the ark, and are really fallen angels cast out...

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The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)

If a sequel’s sole mission is to fix the main problems with its predecessor, then The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian is the perfect sequel. The two main problems with the first Narnia movie were the slightly lackluster villain and a general feeling that the filmmakers couldn’t take any risks for fear of becoming too violent, scary, or thematically dark for the children it was aimed at. Prince Caspian takes things in a darker direction and as a result no longer feels like it’s playing things safe. The film begins with the four children from the first film, now a year or two older — three in real life — being called back to Narnia to help save the world. However, they’re not returning to the Narnia they knew; they’re coming back to one that has aged 1,300 years. They have to figure this out and emotionally reconcile it rather early on. Everyone they knew in the first film is now dead, and their kingdom is no more. In fact, most of the Narnians have been wiped out by a group of men known as the Telmarines. It was a Telmarine, the titular Prince Caspian (Ben Barnes), who summoned the four children back to the land of magic. For reasons not particularly important, he was almost killed and is now being hunted by the rest of the Telmarines. The...

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